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updated: 3/18/2014 7:54 PM

Elgin to look at contributing to ex-school property repairs

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The Elgin City Council is expected to discuss Wednesday whether to spend about $1 million toward repairs to a property a proposed charter school wants to lease.

The Elgin Charter School Initiative wants to lease part of the former Fox River Country Day School, 1600 Dundee Ave., for a new Elgin Math and Science Academy that still needs approval from the state.

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The property has been vacant for almost three years and needs extensive repairs totally about $4.8 million, city officials said.

The charter school would pay $50,000 in rent the first year, $70,000 the second year, $85,000 the third year, $100,000 the fourth year and $115,000 the fifth year. An option to renew the lease would increase the rent to $130,000 in the sixth year, and $150,000 in the remaining years.

Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley said he negotiated the rent after determining what the charter school -- a respondent, along with Elgin Academy, to the city's request for proposals -- can afford.

The charter school wants to lease the dining hall and the the property's Neil Building in June 2015, adding the gymnasium in 2016 and the administration building in 2019.

According to documents provided by the city through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Neil Building has 21,707 square feet of usable space, the dining hall has 4,912 square feet, the administration building has 9,543 square feet and the gymnasium has 20,548 square feet.

An accurate estimate of the rental value of the property would have to include a thorough site inspection, said Realtor Jeri Genz of Prudential Starck in Elgin.

Still, a ballpark estimate yields a rent value of $10 to $12 per square foot, Genz said. On the low end, that would be $266,000 for the Neil Building and the dining hall, $471,000 including the gymnasium and nearly $567,000 with the administration building.

Mayor David Kaptain cautioned against any estimates, because the property is unique, secluded and surrounded by a protected fen, he said.

Also, the city will have to fix the buildings regardless of who rents them, he said.

"If you don't fix some of these things, all you're going to have there are raccoons," he said, adding the Neil Building, which is less than 10 years old, is the most valuable.

Kaptain said he questioned whether it's necessary to repair the pool on the property, since the charter school is not interested in that.

He also pointed out the charter school lease wouldn't cover the city's utility costs for the leased property, or $77,300 in 2015 and up to almost $119,000 in later years.

"The estimate of the utility cost is bothersome to me," he said.

A majority of city council members gave initial approval at a committee of the whole meeting March 1.

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